Fr. Patton: May Pope’s appeals for Holy Land touch hearts of world leaders

Father Francesco Patton, the Custos of the Holy Land, has expressed his appreciation for Pope Francis’ most recent appeal for peace, pronounced at the Angelus prayer on Sunday.

“In God’s name, I beg you to stop: cease fire!” appealed the Pope. “I hope that avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict might be absolutely avoided”.

Fr. Patton, who listened live to the broadcast of the Angelus, told Vatican News that he hopes the Pope’s appeal will “touch the consciences” of world leaders.

“The Pope’s words first made me think about yesterday’s event here in Jerusalem,” he said, “where children were praying for peace.”

He added that the empathy shown by children “is probably greater than that of adults. Children have managed to recognize that suffering is experienced by everyone.”

The atmosphere in Jerusalem, he noted, “remains surreal. There is palpable fear, and there are feelings of hatred and anger mixed with helplessness and pain,” he said, “which makes the need for our prayers and the need for peaceful solutions stand out even more, allowing for the protection of civilian populations, especially children.”

Now, in Gaza, he added, “we are close to 10,000 deaths, of which nearly half are children.”

“This is a tragedy that should touch the consciences of everyone, even those in power in this world, men and women who can also have a strong influence on immediate and future decisions,” he said.

The elderly in the Holy Land were also on his mind, as they endure the drama of the war that began almost a month ago.

“Their concern is for their children and grandchildren. They don’t think about their future but that of their loved ones,” said Fr. Patton. “I’ve seen this not only in Gaza but also here in Israel. Several older people no longer see a great future for their children and grandchildren and invite them to leave the country to try to build a life elsewhere.”

Amid the gathering tragedy, this feeling of helplessness adds a further element of seriousness, “even for the Christian community because it means seeing the Christian presence in the Middle East diminish.”

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